WVU football notebook: Mountaineers aim to finish strong
• West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen likes the mindset of his players entering Saturday's regular-season finale against Kansas at Milan Puskar Stadium. The Mountaineers ended a five-game losing streak — the school's longest since 1986 — with a 31-24 victory at Iowa State. “Some of the guys have been in lifting and watching tape already, and they seem pretty excited to get back to work. That is a good thing due to all the things that have happened over the course of the season,” Holgorsen said during Tuesday's weekly news conference. “One thing I can say about our guys is that they have been very eager to play. We will go through the process and lean on them to finish the year strong. There is a big difference in 7-5 and 6-6 in our minds.'' WVU (6-5, 3-5 Big 12) became bowl eligible following the Iowa State win.
• WVU should play more relaxed this week after ending its month-long losing streak, Holgorsen believes. “Yes, probably, but if we just relax and feel good about it, we will probably get beat this week — that is the nature of college football,'' Holgorsen said. “The one thing I told the guys in the locker room after the game is that they don't need to feel that they accomplished anything else other than a win. We are not going to talk about Iowa State. That game is over. If our guys have learned anything this year, it is you better be ready to play.''
• Shawne Alston's return to the lineup following a thigh bruise diversified the Mountaineers' running game. Alston rushed for a career-high 130 yards and a touchdown against Iowa State, a week after Tavon Austin rushed for a school-record 344 yards against Oklahoma. Alston and Austin combined for 213 yards rushing on 33 carries against Iowa State. “It is just personnel more than anything,'' Holgorsen said. “We probably wouldn't have won that game last week if we wouldn't have done the right thing when it comes to Shawne. If we would have rushed him back, he wouldn't have been able to carry the ball (19) times for 130 yards. We are going to continue to experiment with a couple of things with Tavon. ''